AWG Correspondent

Jade Helm

Trisaetum Vineyards Photos

Trisaetum Vineyards Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Oregon

Reviewed: January 29, 2015 by Jade Helm
Published: March 18, 2015

Oregon is one of the few places you can get directions from a guy driving a tractor, venture up a dirt road, way up a dirt road, and find an amazing art and wine experience at the end.

Google Maps took me to the bottom of this gravel road on the outskirts of Newberg and I paused. Not that I am opposed to taking the Prius "off road" but I wanted to make sure I wasn't about to get myself lost. A farmer just happened to be driving by on a tractor so I stopped and asked, "Is this the way to Trisaetum?" "Well," he said climbing off the tractor, "let's just look and see." Then he led me to a huge kiosk with a map and list of area wineries. The map lead me to some surprises.

Trisaetum Winery is the project of owner/winemaker/artist/master tinkerer James Frey. I don't usually refer to a winery as a project. In this case there isn't a better term. Most winemakers like to experiment. Frey takes it to another level.

A photographer and painter, Frey paid his way through college working in photo journalism. In fact, he won his first award in this field at the age of sixteen. The tasting room includes a 1500 square foot gallery of his work. The art is vineyard-inspired with the landscape and vines as subject and sometimes as medium. All of the textured paintings include bits of soil, grapevines, or grape skins. Guests can wander the gallery with their tasting glass in hand or sit outside on the patio and view the inspiration for the paintings. The vineyard setting was pretty during my winter visit, but I would love to see it again in another season.

And then there is the wine. Riesling is not a huge part of Oregon's wine production. This is a shame because it is very high quality. The Oregon Riesling Alliance meets each winter to taste each other's tank samples. This blind peer review among winemakers allows the producers to address any problems or shortcomings before the wine goes into bottle and ultimately your glass.

Trisaetum has an unusually large selection of Rieslings. Each year Frey bottles six to eight Rieslings: three dry from each of his three estate vineyards - Ribbon Ridge, the Coast Range, and Wichmann Dundee; three off-dry from each of these vineyards; and dry and off dry estate reserve blends. Remember Frey likes to tinker. Fermentation vessels include stainless steel, concrete eggs, plus new and used Burgundian oak barrels. He also likes to play around with different yeasts. It is fun to taste through the Rieslings and try to pick out the nuances.

Guests can choose from flights of white wine, red wine, or a combination. The tasting menu is littered with Wine Enthusiast scores of 91 and above. Reds are Pinot Noir, including a Family Reserve Pinot Noir. This is made from Frey's four select barrels and sells for $100. Not every tasting room allows you a taste of their most expensive bottle. My favorite was the 2012 Wichmann Dundee Pinot Noir. Frey calls this the Audrey Hepburn of Pinot Noir for its elegance and beauty.

Alice, the friendly retail manager, can answer your questions about the wine and art. Tastings are $10 for a flight of 5, refundable with purchase. Private tastings are also available in the subterranean barrel cave. These include opportunities to taste library and limited production wines, pair cheese and charcuterie, and learn more about the winery. Prices vary.

With exquisite Riesling and Pinot Noir and thought-provoking, vineyard-inspired art, Trisaetum is a feast for the senses. Also, be sure to give a friendly wave to anyone driving by on a tractor.

Address & Contact Information: 18401 Ribbon Ridge Road Newberg, Oregon 97132. Telephone: 503-538-9898, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Wed-Mon 11:00-4:00.

Overall Rating:  

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance

More information about Trisaetum Vineyards

Explore Oregon wineries

Explore Willamette Valley AVA wineries

Explore Chehalem Mountains AVA wineries

Explore Ribbon Ridge AVA wineries